Should Teachers Be Paid Extra to Carry in School?

(Creede Newton/Amarillo Globe-News via AP)

I’m not aware of any states that offer cash incentives for educators and staff who serve as a first line of defense in schools, but that could soon change. On Wednesday afternoon, Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones floated the idea of giving school staffers an extra $10,000 annually as part of a series of steps designed to improve school safety.


His plan also calls for stricter standards for already-required school safety plans and boosting the amount of money the state gives schools to hire school resource officers with police certification. Salary and benefits for such officers can cost $80,000 or more.

“We feel like this is the best way to prepare faculty, but also prepare law enforcement and the system however we can,” Jones said, saying the state should be “proactive” to prevent shootings.

Former President Donald Trump and others have called for arming teachers, saying gun-free school zones create targets for armed assailants.

Others, though, say teachers shouldn’t be pressed into service as armed responders. Lisa Morgan, the president of the Georgia Association of Educators, said her teacher group “categorically” opposed anyone besides certified officers carrying guns in schools.

“Teachers should not be armed in the classroom,” Morgan said. “We are not there to serve as law enforcement and introducing more firearms into the school is not a way to solve the problem of violence in our schools.”

Critics also say that lots of practice will be needed to use a gun properly in an emergency, and that there’s a history of even regular police officers accidentally shooting their guns at schools.


There are thousands of armed school staffers in hundreds of school districts around the country at the moment, and the fearmongering of gun control activists and teachers unions has yet to be borne out in reality. I think armed school staff makes sense, particularly in rural areas or on campuses where there is little or no law enforcement presence on a daily basis, but I’m less convinced about paying educators extra if they choose to shoulder that responsibility.

I’m fully on board with Jones’s proposal to pay for the training that armed school staff will go through, and I’d even be in favor of the school district purchasing the firearms carried by educators and staff members. I worry, however, that providing financial incentives for armed school staff will lead to some employees choosing to carry a gun for the wrong reason; not to protect the kids in their care but to pad their bottom line.

When I last spoke to Laura Carno, who heads up the Colorado FASTER program that’s provided training to hundreds of educators in the state, she told me that she’s only run across one school district that was interested in adopting armed school staff but couldn’t find anyone willing to volunteer. It’s far more common, at least in her experience, for schools to have more volunteers than the district deems necessary.


If Georgia wants to roll out an armed school staff system, great. I still think lawmakers should start from the position that taking on the responsibility to serve as a first responder is a choice made by volunteers, not one that comes with a bonus in every paycheck. If districts across the state struggle to find those volunteers, legislators can always revisit the issue, but plenty of other states have seen success without offering thousands of dollars in incentives to those who choose to carry a gun in case of an active assailant attack in their classrooms or campus.

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